Former basketball point guard, Delonte West, was recently seen roaming the streets in a hospital gown publicly exposing his mental illness. It was known back when he was a Cleveland Cavalier that West suffered from mental illness with stories of instability off the court and in the locker room. West last played professional basketball back in 2012. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as early as 2010 and was progressing and living appropriately until he decided that he was in a good place and stopped taking the medication. Brushes with the law and rumors that affected his reputation seemed to have sent him in a downward spiral. West, born Delonte Maurice West, is originally from Maryland and played professional basketball from 2004 to 2012.
Delonte West is one of millions who suffer from bipolar disorder, a mental illness. Bipolar disorder “formerly called manic depression, causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year or as often as several times a week.” www.mayoclinic.org Bipolar disorder is a lifetime condition with no cure only treatment directed at the symptoms that affect the mood. Mental illness can be genetic; however, there are many other factors that contribute to a diagnosis including illegal drug use. About 5.7 million adults suffer from bipolar disorder generally beginning at age 25, though patients as young as 15 have been diagnosed. Approximately 20% will commit suicide while some people may experience mood swings that are less extreme than a full manic episode, known as hypomania.
There are specific types of bipolar where treatment is designed around that particular level: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder (affecting children and teens), and other conditions that bring on the disorder such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke. “Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a separate diagnosis. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous, individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for longer periods, which can cause significant impairment.” www.mayoclinic.org
Mental illness is a taboo subject in many cultures sweeping the behavior under the rug until something drastic happens that may prompt medical or legal attention. Others may live with the disorder and pass away unbeknownst to the family that they had a mental illness; this is due to the lack of education and appropriate treatment.
There is an old adage that there is a “crazy uncle” in every family. Well, that crazy uncle may very well have a mental illness. There is nothing crazy or funny about mental illness but rather should be taken very seriously and treated by a medical professional. Often individuals cover up mental illness by using drugs but that may induce intensity. Education, prevention and treatment will help in any medical disorder it’s just knowing and being aware of behaviors of those who are susceptible to mental illness.